SOS: Save Our Shoes!
When it isn’t performance season, the lifespan of a pair of dance shoes is usually around a month or so. But on tour, I’m lucky if my shoes can last me a week. Every year, I smuggle numerous pairs of shoes into my suitcase, knowing that only the strongest can survive this dangerous voyage.
Basic training is an everyday thing for dancers. However, not every theater has a rehearsal room. Even if there is a studio, it may not have a marley floor, barres, or mirrors; sometimes, it is simply too small to cram all of us inside. Often we are forced to retreat to the lobby. This, ladies and gentlemen, is where the real battle begins: a struggle between a dancer’s shoe and the vast carpet beneath it.
If the carpet is soft, it will only do minimal harm. But if the carpet is rough, it will gnaw away at the shoe material, eventually leaving my toes brazenly protruding from monstrous holes. Remedies such as duct tape can provide momentary relief, but the slipper is ultimately crippled. By then, my only wish is that my socks do not end with the same fate as my shoes. Thus, I have developed a deep appreciation for marley floors, and I miss our dance classrooms back home very much.
No matter what health condition our dance shoes are in, dancing is never easy. Every session of basic training consumes not only our physical strength, but our mental vigor as well. The list of techniques to practice is endless, and to master the bearing and forms of classical Chinese dance isn’t something one can digest quickly. There is always something to work on because there is no such thing as a flawless dancer. Plus, with our frequent performance schedule, by the end of the day, I am so pooped that I just can’t wait to hit the hay. But as soon as my alarm starts blaring in the morning, I know another long day awaits me, full of twirls and leaps, blisters and bruises, pools of perspiration, dedication and determination. No pain, no gain. There are no shortcuts; the only way to improve is through hard work.
Actually, after getting used to it, it’s all right. For the most part, I love dancing. As for the constant fatigue and torn dance shoes, I guess they’re just part of the occupational risks.
April 1, 2011